Prague, March 21 (CTK) – Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka stressed the importance of science and applied research for competitiveness in his speech at an assembly of the Czech Academy of Sciences (AV CR) on Tuesday, and said a decent pay and career prospects should prevent a brain drain abroad.

Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) also wished every success luck to Eva Zazimalova, who will replace Jiri Drahos as AV CR chairperson as from Saturday.

Sobotka said Czech scientists’ wages are deep below the standard. He mentioned the need to improve the conditions for postgraduate students and young scientists.

He said the Czech Republic belongs to the industrial core of Europe and it will be sensitive to the forthcoming technological changes that put a strong emphasis on both applied and basic research.

“Science, research and innovations are our chance of future prosperity,” Sobotka said.

Milan Stech (CSSD), chairman of the upper house of parliament, praised Drahos’s performance and successes as AV CR head in the past eight years and said he would like the state to instal Drahos in a position to use his intellect and personal qualities.

Speculations have it that Drahos might seek the post of Czech president in the direct election due in early 2018.

Drahos said the AV CR’s biggest success in the past years is that people started to view it as an undisputable part of science and education.

He said he considers the stabilisation of the AV CR’s budget and the preservation of the democratic management his biggest success.

Drahos said the business sector’s low support for research is a persisting shortcoming. Unfortunately, of the 46 billion crowns that the business sector spends on research, only less than three billion go in support of scientific work at universities and public research institutions, Drahos said.

Similarly, Deputy PM for Science Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said science in the Czech Republic needs more support from business companies.

He said science has been underfinanced for a long time.

“That is why I am glad that we have pushed through an increase in the budget of science, in spite of the [government partner] ANO’s resistance to it,” Belobradek said.

He said he and Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) are preparing a bill obliging companies to reinvest a part of money on science and research in the Czech Republic.

Belobradek later told journalists that he offered Drahos to become his adviser.

Drahos said in his speech that the AV CR’s future rests in interconnecting basic and applied research.

He emphasised the importance of the AV CR’s Strategy AV21 that reacts to the current problems in the areas of international politics, economy and social developments.

The question of wars and peaceful solutions to conflicts is becoming more and more urgent, Drahos said, adding that he expects the AV CR to release soon the results of its research focusing on migration and other cultural and social challenges of the 21st century.